Paul Jacob

It's the championship game! How about reviewing the first half stats, and putting up enough athlete bios to give us time to visit the rest room and grab a bite to eat? Isn't there enough excitement in the great game of football without stuffing some self-absorbed Hollywood type into the 20-minute break?

Which brings up another problem. Lately, that 20 minutes has crept to 30 minutes . . . or 35 minutes . . . and in the case of a recent Orange Bowl, a 41-minute interruption! Even then, the two teams had to battle wheel ruts from that Sooner Schooner as well as fighting a lingering smoke cloud from a fizzled display of pyromania, er, pyrotechnics. If it had been cigarette smoke on the field, there would have been casualties. From the lawsuits, I mean.

We need change. Reform. I call for the complete banishment of non-players from the field. From the clueless Stanford trombonist to the Marching Boilermakers' rendition of Marvin Hamlisch . . . from the Marching Horned Frogs tribute to Tupperware to even the doggone dot on top of the Ohio State "I" — stay off the field!

The football field is sacred ground; it should be revered, treated more like Arlington Cemetery than La Cage aux Folles. Band members have great seats and should sit in them. Cheerleaders can have a station in front of the seats where the band sits. (Mind you, I offer no resistance to the cameras panning their area while players are in the huddle, or during a time out.)

But, of all the mid-game distractions, the team bands are relatively harmless. At least the band wears team colors and seems interested in the outcome of the game. The biggest threat to football is popular culture. If annoying bands defile the field, the corporate hip hop pop MTV crowd turns the sacrilege to full-fledged desecration.

This is not to vent some pent-up hatred of the Stones (whose music I've liked for a long time, time being, apparently, on their side) or to express a moral objection to Janet Jackson (I'm sure she has as perfect a breast as is surgically possible). What I'm getting at is this: the spotlight is being taken away from those who have worked and fought and bled to get to the pinnacle of the game. Just the thought of Justin Timberlake stepping on the same 50-yard line as Teddy Bruski sickens me. It is time to fight back.

Maybe the Steelers' defense should show up at the next P Daffy concert and demonstrate the meaning of unnecessary roughness between songs.

Whatever is done, we need a repurification of football.

And let the reforms begin at home: If the game isn't enough for you, watch something else! That's what Springer and Oprah and those stupid VH1 hottest celebrity break-up shows are for.

Halftime has morphed into a monster that overshadows the game. Like the Blob, it must be stopped. And like the remake of The Blob, it must not be watched.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.